TELEPHONING: Telephone Language

Telephoning in English is an important part of doing business in English.
Talking on the phone is very common in the office and a really vital part of one's working life. You will be in a position to receive or answer a phone call, ask for someone or make a request, leave a message, return a call, redirect a call, and a variety of other tasks to help customers over the phone.
Therefore, it is a fantastically important skill for anyone in business to master.
It is also important to learn key vocabulary used when telephoning. Telephoning use a number of standard phrases that are specifically used only when telephoning in English. Telephoning conversations, especially business telephone conversations, follow certain patterns :

~~Someone answers the phone and asks if she/he can help
Example: Hello, GBSTC, this is Paul speaking. How may I help you?

~~The caller makes a request - either to be connected to someone or for information.
Example: Yes, this is James Roberts calling. Can you connect me to Mr. Tom Thielke, please?

~~The caller is connected, given information or told that he/she is not available.
Example: I'm afraid Mr. Thielke is out of the office at the moment.

~~If the person who is requested for is not in the office, the caller is asked to leave a message.
Example: Could (Can, May) I take a message?
Would you like to leave a message?

~~The caller leaves a message or asks other questions.
Example: What's the best way to contact him?

Of course, all business telephone conversations do not follow this rigid scheme. However, this is the basic outline for most business telephone conversations.

Here's more:

1. answering a phone

People answering a private phone either say "Hello" or give their name.
People answering a business phone most often give their company's name.

Example: a) private phone: "Hello, this is Tim Adams."

b) business phone: "Hello, Frank and Brothers Winery. How can I help you?"
~~This is quite a formal way of answering a business phone and answering the phone as a representative of the company.

c) "Hello, David Howard. How can I be of help to you?"


~~This is answering the phone as an individual. But both ways with the "How can I help you?"are the standard ways of beginning any kind of transaction.


2. asking for a person :
If you are calling to talk to a specific person, then phrase your request as a polite question :

Example: a)"Can I speak to Lindsay Wilson, please?"
b)"Could I speak with Mr. Brown, please?"
c) "Is Jack Brent in?"

3. saying who you are (if you are the caller) :

Example: a) "It's Richard Davies here."
b) "My name's Mike Andrews."

4. asking who somebody is :

When asking who the caller is,use the standard telephone phrase :

Example: a) "May I ask who's calling, please?"
b) "Who shall I say is calling?"
c) "Who's calling, please?"

5. asking for a number :

When you have an extension number but no name, you can say :
Example: a) " Could I have extension number 356, please?"

...but if you are asking for a number :
a) "Can I get his contact information, please?"
b) "Could I get his phone number, please?"
c) "What's the best way to contact her?"

6. if you want the other person to pay for the call :

a) "I'd like to make a reversed (or transferred)charge call to Bristol 437878,please."
b) "I'd like to make a collect call...."( this is American English)

7. if somebody is not there:
When the person being asked for is unavailable, the standard phrase would be :

Example:a) "I'm afraid he's in a meeting at the moment. Can I help?"
or, "Can you call back later?"
or. "Can I take a message?"
b)"I'm afraid he's out of the office right now.Would you like me to take a message?"
c)"I'm afraid she's on another line. Can I take your number?"
d) "I'm sorry, but she can't come to the phone right now.May I know who's calling,please?"

The caller may say ...
a)"I'll ring/ call her later."
b)"Could you ask her to ring/call me back, please."
c)"Could you just tell her Gladys called, please?"

8. asking people to wait :

Examples: a) "Could you hold a minute, please."
b)"Hold the line, please"
c) "Hang on a moment. I'm just putting you through."

9. things a switchboard operator may say :

When you need to be transferred(connected) to another line, you'll hear :
a) "One moment, please. (The number's) ringing for you."
b) "Connecting your call..."
c) "Please hold, I'll transfer you (to an extension)"
d) "I'm trying to connect you. or, "I'm putting you through now."
e) "I'm afraid the line is engaged(British Eng.)/busy (Am. Eng.) will you hold?"
f) "I'm afraid there's no reply from this number/ from her extension."

10. wrong number
Something we all have to deal with in the office is a wrong number.
Here are the standard phrases we can use :

a) "I'm sorry, you've got the wrong number."
b) "I'm sorry...There's nobody here with that name."
c) "I'm sorry..I think you've dialled the wrong number."

11. problems :
Sometimes, some problems come up but we have to deal with them :
Examples: a)"The line's very bad...Could you speak up, please?"
b)"Could you repeat that, please?"
c)" I'm afraid I can't hear you..."
d) "Sorry,I didn't catch that..could you say it again, please?"
e) "You're breaking up...it's a bad connection."
f) "I called you earlier, but I couldn't get through."
g) "I'll call again...I was cut off."
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